Veterans

7 helpful habits that veterans instantly toss out after leaving

Being in the military requires you to quickly adapt to a very strict code of conduct. The military lifestyle prevents laziness and forces you to maintain a consistent, proper appearance. When troops leave the service, however, they seem to glide right back into civilian life.

Now, that's not to say that all veterans will lose every good habit they've picked up while serving. But there are a few routines that'll instantly be broken simply because there aren't any repercussions for dropping them.

Of course, this doesn't apply to everyone. Maybe you're that Major Payne type of veteran. If so, good job. Meanwhile, my happy ass is staying in bed until the sun rises.


1. Waking up early

The very first morning after receiving their DD-214, nearly every veteran laugh as they hit the snooze button on an alarm they forgot to turn off. For the first time in a long time, a troop can sleep in until the sun rises on a weekday — and you can be damn sure that they will.

When they start attending college or get a new job, veterans no longer see the point in waking up at 0430 just to stand in the cold and run at 0530. If class starts at 0900, they won't be out of bed until at least 0815 (after hitting snooze a few times).

We're also probably not going to make our beds with hospital corners any more, either.

(Photo by Cpl. Octavia Davis)

2. Exercising daily

This kind of goes hand-in-hand with waking up early. The morning is the perfect time to go for a run — but most veterans are going to be catching up on the sleep they didn't get while in service. Plus, the reason many so many troops can stay up all night drinking and not feel the pain come time for morning PT is that their bodies are constantly working.

The moment life slows down and you're not running every day, you'll start to feel those knees get sore. Which just adds on to the growing pile of excuses to not work out.

Finding time after work to go to the gym is, ironically, too much effort.

(Photo by Lance Cpl. Dave Flores)

3. Shaving every day, haircuts every week

If troops show up to morning formation with even the slightest bit of fuzz on their face or hair touching their ears, they will feel the wrath of the NCOs.

When you get out, you'll almost be expected to grow an operator beard and let your hair grow. Others skip shaving their chin and instead shave their head bald to achieve that that Kratos-in-the-new-God-of-War look.

Don't you miss all that effort we used to put into shaving every single day? Yeah, me neither.

(Photo by Senior Airman Erin Piazza)

4. 15 minutes prior

If you're on time, you're late. If you're 14 minutes early, you're still late. If you're 25 minutes early, you'll be asked why you weren't there 5 minutes ago. It's actually astonishing how much troops get done while still managing to arrive 30 minutes early to everything.

Vets will still keep up a "15 minute prior" rule for major events, but don't expect them to be everywhere early anymore.

"Hurry up and wait" becomes "slow is smooth. Smooth is fast."

(Photo by Lance Cpl. Aaron S. Patterson)

5. Suppressing opinions

Not too many troops share their true opinions on things while serving. It's usually just a copy-and-paste answer of, "I like it" or "I don't like it." This is partly because the military is constantly moving and no one really cares about your opinion on certain things.

The moment a veteran gets into a conversation and civilians think they're an expect on a given subject, they'll shout their opinion from the mountaintops. This is so prevalent that you'll hear, "as a veteran, I think..." in even the most mundane conversations, like the merits of the newest Star Wars film.

Civilians also don't get that when you knifehand them, you're telling them off. They think you're just emoting with your hands.

(Photo by Sgt. Bryan Nygaard)

6. Putting in extra effort

Perfection is key in the military. From day one, troops are told to take pride in every action they perform. In many cases, this tendency bleeds into the civilian world because veterans still have that eye for minor details.

However, that intense attention to detail starts to fade over time, especially for minor tasks. They could try their hardest and they could spend time mastering something, but that 110% turns into a "meh, good enough" after a while.

Except with our weapons. Veterans will never half-ass cleaning weapons.

(Photo by Airman Eugene Oliver)

7. Sympathy toward coworkers

A platoon really is as close as a family. If one person is in pain, everyone is in pain until we all make it better. No matter what the problem is, your squadmate is right there as a shoulder to lean on.

Civilians who never served, on the other hand, have a much lower tolerance for bad days. If one of your comrades got their heart broken because Jodie came into the picture, fellow troops will be the first to grab shovels for them. If one of your civilian coworkers breaks down because someone brought non-vegan coffee creamer into the office, vets will simply laugh at their weakness.

In the military, everyone looks out for one another. In the civilian world, it's just too funny to watch others fall on their face.

(Photo by Alan R. Quevy)